No Space Too Small for Keyhole Garden Concept

Nov 17, 2016

KHG can use small spaces to grow fresh greens for a continuous supply of vegetables to meet family needs.

There is now a new site accessible in Apia as a demonstration of the keyhole gardening (KHG) concept. Setting up a backyard garden in Apia is a big challenge with limited space from encroaching urbanization. Employees working in an office environment 40-hours a week are disconnected from nature and missing out on growing their own organic food. To meet that challenge, a keyhole garden demonstration was recently launched (11th November 2016) by the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme and located in the car park of the UN Multi Country Office at Matautu, Apia. 

The purpose of the demonstration site is to promote small-scale organic production of vegetables for healthy diets and illustrate creativity in using limited space to set up your own keyhole garden, be it at your office complex or backyard at home. The UNDP GEF SGP keyhole garden demonstration has leafy green cabbages, spring onions, tomatoes and capsicum growing alongside different herbs including coriander, mint, parsley and a green tea plant in the mixed garden.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Lizbeth Cullity officiated the launch and congratulated the GEF-SGP colleagues for the positive move to promote green growth at the workplace by setting up a keyhole garden demonstration at the UNDP Office premises. The unique set up of this keyhole garden in front of the SGP Office has greatly enhanced the layout of the open space. Promoting green initiatives contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Global Agenda.

“It might sound impossible or considered silly to create such a project in the most impossible spots within a busy working environment and with very limited space to move around or find a parking space,” said Seia Mikaele Maiava.

“However, when the GEF SGP staff contacted me to sketch the planning phase of the Keyhole Garden (KHG) in their office car park, nothing was impossible or no space was too small to stir up our creativity,” said Seia with a big smile.

Seia and his mentor, Seumanutafa Dr. Malcolm Hazelman are active KHG ambassadors carrying out their recent work with the Tokelau Youth Group on KHG installation and mentoring youth in the three atolls, a programme funded by the UNDP/GEF-SGP. Many other NGOs, CSOs and faith based organizations have come forward and requested the assistance of the duo on creative organic gardening. They are passionate individuals with their motto of “sharing is caring.” 

“Sharing your knowledge with others is caring and will multiply your efforts including in KHG. Keyhole gardening is about sharing knowledge, and sharing of plant cuttings. It is also about appropriate technology, using local materials for construction and minimal demand on external inputs. It is also easy to manage given its small size, enough to sustain the nourishment of working families,” says Seumanutafa Dr. Malcolm Hazelman.

KHG can use small spaces to grow fresh greens for a continuous supply of vegetables to meet family needs. The system uses very little water, uses organic materials in construction and is particularly fit for urban dwelling families with little land.  The principal concept in keyhole gardening is promoting an organic system and making use of household food scraps to return nutrients to the soil. A center funnel acts as a compost feeder where food scraps are placed and nutrients feed the crops. The keyhole garden concept is gaining popularity amongst schools, NGOs and individual households, and is actively promoted by the Informal Gardener’s Group, of which Seumanutafa and Seia are the main drivers in promoting practical healthy food production amongst local communities.

Contact information

Ms Ofusina Ieremia, UNDP/GEF-SGP sub regional Programme Associate.  Email: ofusina.ieremia@undp.org.  Phone +685 23670 ext 37.

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